Volkswagen Investigates Vans and Pickups for U.S. Market
Euro Brand Seeking More Customers
Volkswagen may be looking to get back into the American work-vehicle market, if a new report from Bloomberg is to be believed. The company, long famous in the United States for its Type 2 vans (better known as the Microbus and Vanagon), may be planning on bringing its work vans and pickups to lure more U.S. customers into its showrooms.
Here in the U.S., utility-vehicle customers are limited to two Volkswagen models: the pleasant Tiguan compact SUV and the luxurious Touareg midsizer. However, neither is ideally suited for heavy use, as both are five-seat SUVs with limited cargo flexibility. That lack of choice is hobbling Volkswagen’s sales in the truck-crazed U.S. market. Although the brand will be augmenting its showroom with a next-generation Tiguan (optionally available with seven seats) and an upcoming three-row crossover to be built in Tennessee, the company needs to expand its product portfolio.
Logically, it would make sense for VW to bring its Amarok midsize pickup to play in the U.S. market. The truck, which would compete with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, is selling well in emerging markets where people appreciate its rugged design and available diesel motor. Volkswagen could also bring its T5, Crafter, and Caddy vans to our shores. Those vans are also available in the European market as passenger vehicles, which would perhaps revitalize the minivan market with a shot of Euro-chic style.
Volkswagen will likely be watching the success of the Mercedes-Benz Metris midsize van very closely, given the Benz is one of VW’s commercial-vehicle rivals in native Europe. If the Metris does well in the U.S., it might give VW some incentive to expand into other market segments here.
If we were gamblers, we bet VW will bring us a version of the Amarok and Caddy within a few years. An Amarok TDI would do quite well against the Colorado and Canyon Duramax, while the compact Caddy van would put the hurt on Ford’s Transit Connect and Ram’s ProMaster City, particularly in areas where Volkswagens carry a certain hipster cachet.
While Volkswagen’s passenger vehicles sell reasonably well in the U.S., the fact remains that our market is very truck-friendly, so a lack of entries in those key segments means lost sales for VeeDub. Our fingers are crossed for practical new vehicles from Volkswagen, as we’d love to put a light truck like the Amarok through its paces.